I have a funny relationship with my voice.
I’m not exactly happy with the sound of my voice. There have been moments of absolute disdain that began from the sounds which come out of my mouth.
In the eighth grade, I had a teacher tell me how horrible my voice was. I never bothered to act in high school because I hated my voice and assumed that everyone else hated it too. I took a public speaking class in high school and still managed to squeak out an A.
Then I went to college. For my first career, God called me into public relations, a vocation that people would surely hear the sound of my voice. My college classes included Acting (again, I got an A), Voice and Articulation (which I got an A+) and Public Speaking (which, believe it or not, I got an A+ in that class, too).
Maybe I’m not as bad as I thought… Maybe…
And then God called me into the ministry. There is no doubt that my voice will be used. But there is doubt on how well I speak. I think back through my past and critically analyze the many perceptions of the way I speak.
Over the course of my life, there are times people have praised me for the sound of my voice. And then there are times people have critiqued the way I talk. I know that when I get nervous, I talk fast. When I get passionate, the tone of my voice goes up and down.
Like everything else, my speaking is a work in progress.
I don’t believe I’m monotone, and the text I write for the speech is fine. But the nerves kick in and my voice can go in any direction.
And, yet, God has called me to use my voice.
Here I am, for the umpteenth time, watching A King’s Speech. King George VI, also known as Bertie, is called to take on the role as monarch. In his new position, he must make countless speeches. But Bertie has issues with stuttering and wonders how he can be king with such an impediment.
God didn’t call Bertie based solely on his voice. Through this calling, God brought people into his life to strengthen his voice. And Bertie continued to work on his speaking as part of his answer to God’s call.
Granted, my speaking may not be quite a choppy as Bertie’s, but there are times I lose great faith in the sound of my voice. There’s this tension I’m called to live into: working to improve my speaking yet loving the way I speak right now. Sure, I know I can always grow as a speaker, and I must keep working on it. But I know that I must love who I am at this very moment, that God has called me to be here whether or not I have a spectacular voice.
This voice has the potential to bring hope to those who are in need and words to challenge people into action. If I silence this voice, so much that needs to be said won’t be spoken. Words in an adequate or average voice is better than no words spoken at all.
Sure – I still wince each time I listen to a recording of myself, although I must admit that I have improved greatly in the past six months. My challenge to myself is to love my voice – love the nasal sounds that it brings, love the pitch and tone. For if I fail to use my voice, God is limited in this world.